A Crash of Rhinos in Wanneroo

With a flamboyance of flamingos, a murder of crows,  a band of gorillas and a parliament of owls, Patricia Mullins A Crash of Rhinos is a picture book which delights the ears and the eyes. Marvel at the original illustrations and sketches currently on display at the Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre.

The energetic illustrations and and clever use of collective nouns in A Crash of Rhinos entertains and amuses readers of all ages.  Patricia Mullins unique illustrative style involves collage and layering of coloured tissue paper, with pen and ink drawings, to build up the action in each of her scenes.

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A band of gorillas, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia, PWC161 

The exhibition at Wanneroo Gallery marks the first time the complete collection from the book is displayed outside of the State Library of Western Australia.  Acquired in 2011 for the State Library’s collection, it includes original illustrations, preliminary sketches, story boards, and working notes, which provide a unique insight into Patricia Mullins creative process.

One of Patricia Mullins motivations for writing and illustrating is to share her love of language through her stories.

“I’d love them (children) to learn about language through just discovering words, through making up their own words, through understanding that it’s easy and that it can be fun. It’s not about sitting down and learning ‘this is a collective noun’ – it’s about how to use that language…thinking about what language is.” – Patricia Mullins

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A platter of platypuses, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/169 

Patricia Mullins has authored and illustrated a number of picture books including Hattie and Fox (1986), Crocodile Beat (1988), Dinosaur Encore (1992) and Lightening Jack (2012).  A Crash of Rhinos  published by ABC Books by was awarded the Notable Book (Picture Book of the Year) in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2011.

Visitors to the exhibition  are invited to take part in a series of free activities and art workshops.

A Crash of Rhinos is on is on display at Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre until 12 October 2016. For opening hours and further information visit: wanneroo.wa.gov.au

Five minutes with Sally Watts

Western Australian artist Sally Watts’ paper mache dog sculptures and 2D collages feature in our current exhibition Reigning Cats & Dogs.  

We spent five minutes with Sally and discovered the passion and process behind her work as as an artist and illustrator. Here’s what she had to say…

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Puppies under construction produced as part of Sally Watts workshop held at State Library of Western Australia, 2015.

Pets, particularly dogs are the subject of your paper mache sculptures. What inspired you to create the Paper Puppies series?  

Dogs in particular have always been dear to me but because of a life of postings, first though my father and then my husband, it was quite impossible to have a pet. When we were finally able to stay in Australia we welcomed a tiny, energetic bundle of fur into our family of three: a long-legged Jack Russell named Myrmidon Jack Irish Beau.  Beau for short and that was the only thing small about him. He was larger than life and gave us all much affection and amusement with his antics as well as a few heart stopping moments when he climbed a tree and escaped over the garden fence as a young pup.  Jackies are notorious for wanting to know what is around the corner…and the next one too.  I spent a couple of frantic hours calling his name and waving a chicken wing about until he spotted it across the park and claimed his prize (in his eyes anyway).  He was quick to learn “party tricks” and loved to perform to an adoring audience.  As a youngster he would enjoy basking in the sun and keeping a sharp eye out on proceedings in his garden.  This was done sitting on the roof of his kennel-just like Snoopy the cartoon dog . Walks were high on his To-Do-List and socialising with the neighbourhood dogs in the park was a morning occurrence.  He was a patient model when I wanted to draw him and he even found his way into some of my book illustrations. We were fortunate to share such a long time-17 years-with our little doggie dynamo.  We love him still.

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Sally Watts, puppy preliminary drawing, pen on paper,2015

Many of us have attempted some form of paper mache sculpture, often with mixed results.Your Paper Puppies are smooth sculptures, they almost look like they are made out of clay. How do you achieve this affect?  

The construction of the paper and plaster dogs is unusual in that an internal wire armature is not used. at all. The strength comes from binding tape and the many layers of paper and gesso (containing a high percentage of plaster).  The whole process of producing a dog can take  up to two weeks depending on drying time and the number of layers of paper and plaster.
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Recycling and sustainability are key themes in your works.  Why do you feel this is important?

My dog series has grown from a strong desire to contribute to sustainability but in a quirky way.  A way that others may adopt and utilize in their art practice. Using re-purposed materials (newspaper, cardboard, envelopes, scrap paper and junk mail) to form a lively characterisation of man’s best friend, shares the important message of the versatility and re-usability of materials which are normally discarded.  My eco-friendly sculptures start as disregarded rubbish-household paper waste and then take on a new life.

I like to think by encouraging others to make their own “Man’s Best Friend” I am, in a small way, helping to spotlight the great need to reuse and recycle one of our world’s precious commodities.

Your life of travel has influenced your ‘Letter From Home’ series.  How do you determine which items are included in the collages?  What meaning do these works hold for you?

For my collages I have been collecting text, tickets, maps, illustrations and more from my many homes over many years in many countries. I have always been fascinated and inspired by the mundane printed materials of everyday life in our throw-away society.  Each collage in the series Letters from Home begins with long accumulated found items from “home”, wherever that was, and become a part of a personal jig-saw and a journey down Memory Lane.  I take these pieces of memory and layer them.  This layering and patching of words, letters and colours create their own tensions and harmonies within abstract compositions.  From this manipulation emerges a pattern of recalled personal memory. Some text can be read easily, some is intentionally obscured.  Just as a memory is sometimes sharp and intense and at other times only a fragment will surface to tease.  The items themselves are commonplace and trigger a particular thought for me but the same piece, because of it familiarity, will most certainly evoke a completely different, yet no less powerful, memory for others. I use this imagery to evoke memory, both for myself, of a time and place left behind, and for the viewer.  At the same time these words, pictures and patterns are also an integral part of the overall visual design.  My collages are made with original source material.

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Reigning Cats and Dogs is on in The Place at the State Library until 20 July.
Explore artwork of pets from the Peter Williams Collection of Illustrations, including artworks by Julie Vivas, Leigh Hobbs, Shaun Tan, Jane Tanner, Ron Brooks and more. 
For more information visit: State Library Website

What’s in a sketchbook?

Sketchbook by Amanda Fernandez, 2014 "WA Museum"

Sketchbook by Amanda Fernandez, 2014 

For centuries sketchbooks, notebooks and diaries have recorded daily life, observations from great explorer expeditions, personal accounts, and intricate details of past lives and times.

Call to mind the journal of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, or Da Vinci’s curious inquiry into human anatomy in his 16th century sketchbooks. They are forms of storytelling and communication grounded in time and place, and shaped by the personalities and identities of their makers.

The State Library holds the notebooks of Edward T Hardman including an 1871 sketchbook which records his geological survey of the Kimberley region in pictures and words. A vellum bound book of poems written by Irish convict John B O’Reilly,1868 demonstrates his creative pursuit and passion as a poet, while Revel Cooper’s History Book speaks of his education as a 13 year old Aboriginal boy during Australia’s assimilation era. These records provide a rare insight into the culture and concerns of past Western Australia.

What would the diary or sketchbook of a young  person living in the 21st century look like?

Thoughts, musing, observations and vignettes of daily life are revealed in a collection of over fifty sketchbooks produced by young Western Australians. The sketchbooks feature illustration, photographs, poetry and collage, and were created through Propel Youth Arts WA’s Sketchbook Project, part of the KickstART youth festival.

“My sketchbook is my reflection”, writes 23 year old Soolangna Majumdar, “…a month long observation of what’s on my mind. One 60 page long selfie.”

Following an eight month tour throughout WA public libraries from Port Hedland to Manjimup, the sketchbooks have returned to Perth and are on display at the State Library.

One sketchbook by 24 year old artist Amanda Fernandez has caught the eye of our staff with its aesthetic beauty and descriptive watercolour sketches.

How many scenes are familiar to you?

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View Amanda’s sketchbook and many more on display in the Discovery Lounge Ground Floor until 30 January 2015. Open during library hours.

More information:

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Books from your Backyard Family Day

Books From Your Backyard

Where you can find 12 Western Australian authors and illustrators in one day?
In The Place at the State Library of Western Australia! 

Join us this Saturday for Books from your Backyard, a free family fun day in The Place. Be amazed by the local talent in your backyard as 12 writers from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (WA) read, perform and create drawings before your eyes.

10.00 am -Karen Blair – 0-4 years
10.30 am – Elaine Forrestal – 0-8 years
11.00 am – Briony Stewart – 4-7 years
11.30 am – Samantha Hughes – 5-12 years
12.00 pm – Chris Owen – 4-7 years
12.30 pm -Wendy Binks – 4-8 years
1.00 pm –  Teena Raffa-Mulligan – 4-7 years
1.30 pm –  Meg McKinlay – 4-8 years
2.00 pm –  James Foley – 5-12 years
2.30 pm –  H.Y. Hanna – 8-12 years
3.00 pm – Cristy Burne – 8-12 years
3.30 pm – Frane Lessac – 5-12 years

Make a day of it while you’re here and visit the Rules of Summer and On a Small Island exhibitions as well.

When:
 Saturday 10 January, 10am – 4pm
Where: The Place, Mezzanine Floor, State Library of Western Australia
Ages: 4-10 years
Entry: Entry is free. No bookings required.

Briony Stewart illustrating: Photo by Alanna Kusin

More information:

  • Books from your Backyard
  • All venues at the State Library are wheelchair accessible
  • Parents/ caregivers need to attend with children.
  • Books will be for sale and all sessions will be followed by book signings.

Five minutes with Kyle Hughes-Odgers

Kyle Hughes –Odgers is a Western Australian artist and author known for his innovative illustrative style and public art.  Dazzling original illustrations from his new book On a Small Island are on display now at the State Library of Western Australia.

We spent some time hearing from Kyle about the inspiration and ideas behind his work. Here’s what he had to say…

Kyle Hughes-Odgers: Photo by Chad Peacock

Kyle Hughes-Odgers in his studio: Photo by Chad Peacock

1. Describe your book making process. Which comes first for you, the narrative, illustration, or the idea?

I had the initial idea for On a Small Island and I could visualise the flow of the artwork and some ideas I wanted to explore. I sketched all the artwork as a story board, then wrote the narrative to work with the images. After this the painting process started. For my next book the narrative has been very clear from the start so I have focused on developing this before starting any artwork. So I don’t seem to have a consistent process when approaching books.

2. You are known for your picture book illustrations and public art. How do you switch between extremes of scale and medium?

I love working across many different scales. I like the challenge of painting buildings and getting to spend time outside but I also love when I have time to be in the studio and work on paintings, drawings and children’s books. The variety keeps me slightly sane and it’s great to change my head space!

3. Your illustrations for On a Small Island include a lot of repetition, geometric shapes, and a variety of textures. How did this style evolve?

Very naturally – I think because I am constantly driven to make new work, the time spent exploring ideas and techniques has helped develop and progress my work to what it is today. I’m sure in another 5 -10 years it will have evolved again.

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On a Small Island exhibition. Photo: State Library of Western Australia

4. You grew up in and currently reside in Perth. Is there anything unique or iconic about the Western Australian environment that influences your work? 

There are many unique and iconic aspects to the Western Australian environment, but I’m not sure it has had a direct influence on my artwork. I’m inspired by many different parts of life

5. Would you describe On a Small Island as more universal or more autobiographical?

I wrote it with a universal reach in mind, but I do connect with it personally. I think the idea of being positive and productive to change your situation is something that most people can connect with.

6. In 2012 you collaborated with author Meg McKinlay to produce the book Ten Tiny Things. What was it like to be both author and illustrator with On a Small Island? How was it different or similar to working on Ten Tiny Things?

The artwork process was fairly similar in terms of planning and creating, the writing process was challenging compared to making artwork for Ten Tiny Things. I’m a very visual person and have never thought of myself as a writer so it was something I was really excited about but also cautious because it is very new ground for me.

7. Where do you find your creativity? Which artists and authors inspire you?

I’m really inspired by nature, creativity, human behavior and life! I draw/paint every single day and I really love it. My favourite illustrator of all time (at the moment) is Charley Harper.

A number of original illustrations from On a Small Island have been included in the State Library of Western Australia’s Children’s Literature Collection. The exhibition is on display in The Place on the Mezzanine floor, State Library of Western Australia and is open until 28 February. For more information visit our website.

On a Small Island exhibition. Photo: State Library of Western Australia

Teddy Bear Sleepover for The Reading Hour

The Reading Hour was a special nation-wide event on Saturday 25 August 2012 for the National Year of Reading 2012.

The aim for the Reading Hour was to encourage families to share a book with their child for 10 minutes a day, one hour a week.

We encouraged parents to host their own Teddy Bear Sleepover at home and to enjoy sharing a book with their child (and their teddies!) for ten minutes between 6 and 7pm.

We hosted our own Teddy Bear Sleepover at the library on the day. Teddies and soft toys explored the library and took part in a special story time.

Here is their journey:

Arriving at the State Library of Western Australia!
Arriving at the State Library of Western Australia for the Teddy Bear Sleepover!

Meeting some new friends
Meeting some new friends at the library. It was so fun to meet a tiny robot and a baby manatee, but the dalek scared us a little!

Hanging out the State Library Shop
Hanging out in the State Library Shop.

Checking out Better Beginning's
Checking out Better Beginning‘s “Baby Ways” board book.

Om Nom in the mirror!
Who is this here in the mirror!?

The staff at the State Library are so helpful!
The staff at the State Library are so helpful!

Riding up and down in the lift is lots of fun!
Riding up the lift to explore the library. Wheeee!

The State Library of Western Australia's
Meeting the State Library’s “Books Moove Me Cow!“. She was painted by Western Australian children’s book illustrators!

Meeting some more funny State Library staff
Meeting another State Library staff member. What a funny man.

Accessing e-books via the State Library catalogue
Accessing e-books from the State Library for free!

Checking out the view from the 2nd floor
Checking out the view from the 2nd floor of the State Library.
Look, there’s the BankWest Tower! Can you spot any other Perth landmarks?

Time for a yummy afternoon tea in The PlaceEnjoying afternoon tea in The Place. What’s your favourite afternoon treat?

Story time!
Having fun at a very special Reading Hour story time!

Goodnight everybody!
All tucked in after our bed-time story. Goodnight everybody!

This was a National Year of Reading event.

There are lots of fun and creative ways to share books with your children. If you can manage 10 minutes most nights, your child will have the best chance of becoming a good reader, with all the social and educational benefits that brings.

Small and Special

Small and Special

Have you any ancestors who worked in medicine? Do you have family from London or surrounding counties? England’s first in-patient children’s hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street, has created a database of patient admission records from 1852 to 1914. 

The database is free to search although you must register (also free) in order to gain access to all of the results. Search under child’s name or under the name of a nurse or doctor.  Some images are available.

Tumble Books and other online resources for your children

Sharing a love of reading, rhyming and singing with babies and young children has been proven to be central to a child’s language growth and  latter reading ability.  The State Library of WA’s runs Better Beginnings, to support parents in giving their children a love of reading.

The most cruical way that parents can give their children a love of reading is by sharing books and reading to them, singing them songs and sharing rhymes with them from a very young age.  The Better Beginnings resources page has some excellent suggestions for first books, rhymes and songs to share with babies.   Links to a selection of websites will help you to locate the words and audios for many rhymes and songs.

As part of the State Library of WA’s commitment to supporting parents  a subscription to Tumble books has been provided.  Tumble books is a collection of collection of talking story books, puzzles and games that young children can enjoy online.  It is especially suited to children from 4 to 12 years old.